Audiobook Author Interview – Bootleggers

Author: Paul Rudd

Narrators: Jordan Wolfe, Jennifer Martin, Rod Glenn, Emily Wyatt, Caitlyn Wolfe

Length: 13 hours 43 minutes

Publisher: Paul Rudd

Released: Feb. 11, 2021

Genre: Fiction

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Welcome to 1987, part of the era of VHS and arcade games. A time when teenagers on BMXs create worlds of imagination.

The Four Horsemen – Tommy, Mikey, Kurt, and Ted – need something new to spice up their gatherings because, well, boys will be boys. When a stranger approaches Mikey with bootlegged tapes in the trunk of his car, Mikey isn’t interested, but the board game the man presents might just do the trick.

The Horsemen become Bootleggers to play this life-altering game, assuming avatars with a twist to every tale and forging into the realms created by a sadistic madman known as Mr. Nobody. Everything is at risk – family, friends, and their entire town; they must play, or everyone dies.

When folk are murdered, the boys know there is only one way to end the game. It is time to change the rules and kick some ass.

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No, he’s not the actor, or Ant Man, Paul Rudd, the author, is UK based and tends to delve into Sci-Fi/horror/fantasy genres.

Sharks have been a passion since he first watched Jaws at an age far too young to print. Writing about sharks, and in particular, the prehistoric Megalodon sharks, seemed an obvious route to take, and so began the creation of Paul’s debut novel Sharc.

Released in 2012, Sharc led to Sharc Bait (book 2 of the series), London Warriors followed, and then Wild Wild Dead, along with the Chronicles of Supernatural Warfare. Shark Spawn and Bootleggers, the latest release (first published in 2020).

All of Paul’s releases can be found under the Ravenous Roadkill banner, and Ebooks available through Wild Wolf Publishing. Audiobooks for Sharc, Sharc Bait, Wild Wild Dead, London Warriors, Shark Spawn and Bootleggers are all available through Audible.


Paul Rudd – Author Interview: 

Interviewer: I’d like to welcome today’s guest, Paul Rudd. Paul has written a new Audiobook called Bootleggers. Bootleggers is just one of Paul’s many novels and Audiobooks. Welcome Paul.

Paul: Thank you for having me. 

Interviewer: So, to start off with, can we discuss the Elephant in the room. Are you him?

Paul: Yes, I’m Paul Rudd. I wrote Bootleggers

Interviewer: I think you misunderstand. Are you the ‘real’ Paul Rudd? C’mon, people must say it to you all of the time.

Paul: Not to my face, obviously, because that’s pretty obvious, lol. On the phone I have had it asked of me, and you get the odd comment on Facebook, Twitter. Don’t be disappointed. The best thing about having the same name as a celebrity was telling my kids, when they were young, to watch the cinema screen. It was great, my name came up during the Ant Man opening credits. It was really funny, just to see their faces, until they realised it wasn’t actually me. Then I just felt a bit silly. Anyway, I’ve never dined out using the name, and I don’t think I’d ever pass for the ‘real PR’, more of an ageing Harry Potter. Shall we start?

1)    How did you select your narrator?

Bootleggers needed someone young sounding as the main characters are teenagers. To be honest, I thought I would struggle to get anyone interested. However, on the 18th May 2020 I uploaded the narrative to ACX, and to my surprise, on the 19th May 2020, I had an audition from Jordan Wolfe. Within sixty seconds of listening, I had made up my mind. Although to make sure I wasn’t jumping the gun for the first person to answer the call, I sent a clip to my publishing partner, Reggie Jones. Reggie replied just as quickly and said, ‘he’s the one’. Jordan had the right tone, the right voice for each character. The rest is history.

 2) How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process?

We worked as closely as we could I suppose. Probably closer than I’ve worked with other narrators of my books. Bootleggers is the longest story I’ve written, and Jordan put in a lot of hours, and I mean a lot, and I’ll be forever grateful as he really brought this story to life.

3) Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?

The good thing about Jordan, he got each character spot on. And I mean every character. I didn’t need to correct anything. The four boys, Ted, Tommy, Kurt and Mikey, they are just your average dorky, 80’s kids. They like D&D, movies etc. However, when you listen to them and their banter, which is really funny, you can tell who each boy is. It really is great work from Jordan. He really made my job easier.

4) I can see there is more than one person narrating. How did you manage to get extra narrators onboard your project?

The initial idea was to just have one narrator. I really was fine with that. Then one day, I just thought, ‘How can I give this story the best opportunity of getting noticed?’ The answer came to me as, ‘Why not ask people to voice a cameo or guest star.’ Crazy, right! How could an unknown writer get some actors onboard? Well, you don’t know, if you don’t ask. 

When I fired the idea past Jordan, we agreed to try and bring other people onboard. And no, at no time did I didn’t pretend to be the other Paul Rudd! We added first, the excellent Rod Glenn. Rod is someone I have got to know since I started writing in 2010. I had seen a lot of Rod’s acting showreels, and some of the parts he played, and he was the first person I thought of approaching. Rod voices Mr. Nobody, the big bad of the story, and he really brings an excellent, sinister side to the character.

Next up, we have Caitlyn Wolfe, Jordan’s wife. Caitlyn agreed to voice the small part of Katt. Katt is a spaceship’s artificial intelligence, along the lines of Kitt from Knight Rider. I absolutely love her cameo. It’s so funny, so cool. I can’t say more without spoiling the scenes.

Next up, we have Jennifer Martin, who was recommended to me. To his day, I am so glad Lucinda put Jennifer my way. We have never met or spoken, except over email or via Twitter, but she really is awesome, and an extremely talented actress. Jennifer voices Knoll. Again, this is an AI character, based on Nell from the movie Battle Beyond the Stars. Jennifer really took the part to heart and turned in an hilarious performance. It really is an awesome cameo.

The last person onboard was Emily Wyatt. Emily voices Vanity, who is based on the real American actress from the movies, The Last Dragon and Action Jackson. Vanity comes across one of the characters towards the end of the story. Emily was recommended to me by Jennifer at short notice, after the American actress I initially lined up was unable to supply the audio I needed in time. Unbeknownst to me, when I looked Emily up on IMDB, I realised I had been watching one of her movies a month or so before we emailed each other. It really is a small world. Emily is also a fantastic actress and she nailed her part.

To this day, I still cannot believe that I managed to get such a fantastic cast for Bootleggers. It really is mind blowing what you can do if you just ask. I really must thank them all for their hard work and time on this project.

5)    Were there any real-life inspirations behind your writing? 

Bootleggers is my favourite novel by far. From the moment I started writing, I remembered so much about my childhood. There are minor parts of the story which relate to me, or one of my family members, or friends. I mean the slightest little detail of a poster on a wall, or a comment, or of how I remember something taking place. Every single detail I included is from the heart of an 80s kid. 

When I started the story, I re-watched loads of 80s movies and television shows. I also listened to only 80s music for the best part of a year. I crammed so much content in the story, and I mean movies, cartoons, song lyrics, television characters, place names, character names, quotes, and one-liners. 

The owner of a video store is even named after the store that used to be around the corner from my childhood house. There is a model of the Battlestar Galactica hanging from one of the boy’s ceiling, just like my brother used to have in his bedroom. You name it, I probably added it. I forgot about computer games, one of the boys has a paper round. Remember the computer game – Paperboy. Everybody had a round when I was a kid, but the reason it is in the book is because of the computer game I used to play.

I pretty much included snippets of each of my favourite movies, television shows, and songs and mashed them together. There are worms from Dune, crossed with the Graboids from Tremors. I know Tremors was out in 1990 but it was just too good an opportunity to not do what I decided on. You’ll see what I mean when you reach that part of the story. 

One of my favourite movies is the Sword and the Sorcerer.  I just remember the three blade sword that the hero Talon used. I have no idea how old I was when I watched it but it was released in 1982, so I had to be at least 8, maybe 9. It was iconic to me when I was a kid. I’d never seen a three blade sword that Talon used like a gun. It was really gory, but I’d seen First Blood, Jaws and other films, so the blood and the gore didn’t really bother me much. 

So many details are included in Bootleggers, maybe some are not so obvious from the outset, but for copyright purposes I twisted the descriptions on purpose, otherwise anyone who was anybody in the 80s would likely sue my arse. All I will say is this, the story is set in a bootleg universe. I included genres from science fiction, fantasy and horror, to comedy, some family drama and tragedy, from electric dreams to a character based on Barbarella (from the 60’s, I know!), and sword and sorcery movies, all of which had a flash of breasts or an orgy scene (they all had them back in the day, just watch Conan the Barbarian and every rip off since) but at the very heart of the story is a young boy who is in love with the girl of his dreams. I really wish I could list all the content. There is so much included, I dare anyone to try and pick out every little piece I added.

I also have to say a massive thank you to Low Tide Theory who allowed me the use of their song Time Will Tell. It has such a cool 80s vibe to it. We included part of the song at the end credits and in the book trailer. I wanted to use it more, but it was hard to fit it into the story where we wanted. I did manage to use the lyrics in part of the story though, as one of the boys lets rip with a rousing speech.

6) Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?

There is one part I can highlight. The teenagers come across a horrifying version of Mr. Nobody in the Police Station. Rod and Jordan really bring the confrontation to life as the realisation of what they are up against starts to claw away at them. If I told you that I’ve already had two reviewers tell me that people should avoid listening to this part of the book before bedtime, as it really is scary, do you think you would? To me, that means it came across as I wanted it to. It’s a dark part of the story. It’s the horror genre as I remember it. It’s meant to be scary and gory, so I guess it worked well.

7) How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?

Jordan and I emailed a couple of times to say well done. I also took a moment to contemplate the level of what we had achieved together. Even with a handful of books and audiobooks already to my name, there is that trepidation which comes with each release. Once I realised this is a huge release for us and we should be proud of what we put together, I was able to relax and enjoy the moment. I was also in UK Lockdown, so I couldn’t go out and celebrate or anything, so I just cracked open a can of Coors and toasted a job well done with my better half and the kids.

8) If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?

  • Dream Cast (NOW)

Ideally, Tommy West, Mikey & Daisy Drew, Kurt Connors and Theodore ‘Ted’ Logan, I’d like to be cast as new talent. Boring, I know, but that would be the ideal cast for the teenagers. It would be too hard to pick them from the up and coming talent. The rest of the cast is far easier to choose.

Mr. Nobody would have to be Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Negan from the WWD was a badass.  He could be smooth, charming and also a proper SOB. Mr. Nobody is all of these, and more.

My first choice for Tobias Strong would be ideally played by Robert Englund but he’s been cast in Stranger Things now. So that ain’t gonna happen, lol. Although Kurt Russell, Mr. Snake Plisken himself, is a true 80’s icon to me. So actually, KR over RE, for sure.

For Miss Welch, I’d have to say Morena Baccarin. I really think she’d be ideal for the sympathetic, calm, but really twisted teacher. She’s been excellent in everything I’ve seen her in. She is stunning, and you can adore her and fear her at the same time. That’s Miss Welch all over.

Veronica Welch, I’d got for Hailee Stenfeld. With Miss Welch being pregnant at a young age, Hailee and Morena would work great together as mother and daughter. She’s a class act.

Sheriff West (Tommy’s dad), William Zabka would be ideal. I know he’s all over the internet because of Cobra Kai, but I grew up watching the Karate Kid and this guy was the school bully of the 80’s. The Sheriff is a good guy in this book, so to have WZ in this movie/series, would make up for me hating him so much when I was a kid, lol. 

Mayor Walsh would have to be Action Jackson himself, Mr. Carl Weathers. He portrayed three massive characters in the 80s. Apollo Creed, Dhillon in Predator and AJ. I love every one of those characters, and a big part of that was due to Carl Weathers. 

Packard Walsh, I’d love Michael B Jordan to be cast. With Apollo as his dad, who else could it be? Plus he’s not a teenager, and wasn’t everyone who portrayed teenagers in the 80s over about 30? 

Zack Barnes, Daisy’s boyfriend is your typical handsome, leather jacket bad boy who all the girls love. He looks far too old to be in school, a bit like Rudy from the Monster Club.I’d say Nick Jonas would fit the part. He was great in Jumanji. I don’t know how old he is in real life, lol. Zack is in parts of the story, and sort of turns up like a Scooby Doo villain, lol. 

That cast would work for me. Might cost a bit to get them all though. 

  • Dream Cast (THEN)

Well you’ve had the cast from present actors, however, I thought it might be cool to see which actors from 1987 would have played the same parts. This time, I decided to include the main four teenagers because, back in the day, it didn’t seem to matter the age of the person portraying the part.

The story’s lead, teenage character is Tommy West. I loved the film Can’t buy me Love, and I thought Patrick Dempsey would be ideal for Tommy. He has that quirky geek in him, and he’d be ideal. 

Daisy Drew would have to be Robin Wright. The Princess Bride is another classic from the era and she would be ideal for Tommy’s feisty love interest.

Mikey Drew, Daisy’s brother and Tommy’s best friend would be Will Wheaton. Stand by Me, is without a doubt, an absolute classic movie, and Will was excellent. 

For Kurt Connors, it was a toss up between Michael J Fox, Corey Feldman and Jason Bateman but I think Jason would win that one. He has a bit more of the geek in him, no offence Jason. Corey was in everything back in the day, and Michael would probably need to be the headliner rather than the backup.

Only one person could play, Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan. For me it’s Keanu Reeves. Without a doubt. He’d have to play it differently to Bill & Ted’s, Ted, but he’d be ideal in 1987.

Mr. Nobody, I would say Anthony Hopkins would have been ideal for this part in 1987. Sinister, suave, and a total badass actor. Silence of the Lambs anyone?

Miss Welch, the beautiful, sassy and terrifying teacher, would have to be Sharon Stone. 100%. The goddess of the 80’s movie scene. 

Sheriff West could only be one person. My favourite actor from the decade, Michael Biehn. The man was class and he starred in two of my favourite ever movies, The Terminator and Aliens. 

I loved Jaws 3D and Iron Eagle, so Mayor Walsh would have been Louis Gossett Jr. I remember him being in loads of movies, so I could see him snapping up this part, without a doubt.

His son, Packard, I’d go for a young Welsey Snipes. I don’t think Wesley was in much at the time, but I can just see him being Tommy’s nemesis. 

And finally, for Zack Barnes, I would’ve picked Johnny Depp. Who else, but the teenage heartthrob that I remember all the girls at school swooning over. I just remember them all being upset after Nightmare on Elm Street. 

9) Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?

I have never admitted this to anyone, but Freddy Kreuger once stalked one of my nightmares. He hunted me around my neighborhood for what felt like hours. I just remember thinking this can’t be real, but that’s what they all said in the Elm Street movies. I still remember it, which is weird for a dream. I had to jump crevices in the pavement, there was smoke spilling out and lava beneath the ground. When he finally caught up to me and went to slash me with his finger knives. I woke up sweating. I was in my late teens. That guy scared the crap out of me in the movies. Thankfully it was just the once. 

10) What’s next for you?

I have another Audiobook out now called Shark Spawn. It’s narrated by the excellent Brian Knutson and was released just before Bootleggers. I’ve been so wrapped up in Bootleggers that I’ve not had much chance to promote it. This will be next for me.

I also have another Audiobook on the horizon. Jordan and I will be teaming up again on Ningen. It’s a science fiction thriller, set in the near future, and is a creature feature based on a mythical entity. Look out for it later in 2021. We have several 5 people joining in the narration so far, so it may well be bigger than Bootleggers. Time will tell.

Thanks for your time today, and I sincerely hope people enjoy the 80s mashup that I pieced together. 

Paul Rudd (not the actor guy!). 

Author Paul Rudd’s Playlist for Bootleggers

This list of songs were listened to throughout the writing process. Most of them are 80s based anthems. All are relevant to the story. Low Tide Theory’s ‘Time Will Tell’ is the soundtrack anthem for the story. I was given permission from the band to use the song for the Audiobook. You can hear part of it at the end credits, and also in the book trailer I put together. There are so many more songs I listened to, including the Soundtracks for movies from the decade. I can’t add them all though, so I’ve chosen the select few.

Bootleggers, Bootlegged songs Playlist

I’ve also included a list of recent Bootlegged versions of 80’s songs. There are probably many more I have missed but these are the ones I’ve kept on my playlist whilst I was writing the story.

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Disclaimer – I have not read or listened to this book so I cannot speak to its appropriateness for a K-12 Christian School library. I encourage librarians to read the book before making a purchasing decision.

I choose to share it because it does sound interesting. If you listen to it, let me know what you think.

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